18 March 1862: “I stuck to it til a vile ball struck me on my brest plate the brest plate glanced the ball away it gave me quite a clip but did not hirt me…”

Item description: Letter, 18 March 1862, from Jeremiah Stetson, from New Bern, N.C., to his wife Abbie F. “Happy” Stetson, in Hanson, Massachusetts.

Jeremiah Stetson was born in Pembroke, Mass., on 27 June 1810. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Stetson and his oldest son, Edwin Leforrest Stetson (b. 1842), enlisted in Company E of the 23rd Massachusetts Infantry Regiment. In the absence of her husband and grown son, Jeremiah Stetson’s wife, Abbie F. Stetson (d. 1901), called “Happy” by her husband, maintained the family’s farm in Hanson, Mass., tending chickens, fruit trees, and strawberries. At home, there were three other children: Melvina Louise Stetson (b. 1844), called “Melly”; Marshall Stetson (b. 1856); and Edith Ruth Stetson (b. 1859).

Jeremiah Stetson saw action in North Carolina and South Carolina, particularly during the capture of New Bern, N.C., but his increasingly bad health apparently prevented him from taking part in most of the later fighting. When able, Jeremiah Stetson performed duties as a carpenter, building barracks for the Army. He died in Hanson, Mass., on 24 February 1869. Edwin Leforrest Stetson participated in the taking of Kinston, N.C., and in various expeditions to destroy railroads near New Bern and try to take Goldsboro, N.C.

Item citation: From the Jeremiah Stetson Papers #5028-z, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

Newbern, N.C.
March 18 /62

(Newspaper clipping on Roanoke battle was in this letter) JCS

Well happy we are yet alive but we are rather tired out we have had another most terable battle but I cant tell you muth about it yet you will see it in the papers before you git this our Company was in the thickest of the battle Ed never flinched a hair from first to last but fired his old gun every posable chance I stuck to it til a vile ball struck me on my brest plate the brest plate glanced the ball away it gave me quite a clip but did not hirt me I fired my gun twice more and a cannon ball struck a pine tree a gunk of pine timber flew and struck me on the side nocked me down carryed up my ramrod burst a hole in my coat but did not hurt me much we drove them out in about 2 hours they had a battery flung up a mile and a half long to fight behind and we had nothing but a little woods which did us much hirt as good Gen Burnsides sais he could take bulls run forty times with the men he has got here but he sais they have dun fighting enough so we expect to stay here to garison the place it is a very pleasant place they left the city for life we live well now we have chickens gess ducks pigs hogs fat cattle sweet potatoes eggs and every thing the boys can git hold of eight hundred cavaldry come back to bury their Dead and we took them prisoners contrabands are comeing in, fine weather we are resting fast, E looks better since the battle than he did before give my respects to all E got your letter dated the 9th of march I take as much intrest in his letters as I do in my own if I can hear you are all well it seems to night evry thing, little marshal must continue his little prayers for father and edy I think they do much good he and R must write me another letter write as oft as you can, if M don’t send me a letter I will sell him down south

J Stetson

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